What are some good, cheap, tropical eco-trips for winter?

What are some good, cheap, tropical eco-trips for a winter break? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico

The struggling Central American and Caribbean travel industry's loss--thanks to the Great Recession--is your gain right now. If you've got the cash, and a job, now is the time to deal hunt for a trip to some sunny, near-flung destination. Here are the three trips that top my list:

Monserrat
Devastated by the epic volcanic eruption in 1995, this lush, ten-mile-long island fringed by powder-white beaches is finally enjoying a quiet rebirth. Stay at Mount Pleasant Eco Lodge, opened a few months ago, high on a mountainside on the edge of a rainforest. The four-acre property, powered by solar panels, offers 12 tents on wooden platforms for guests. Cost is $45 per night, per person. greenlivingmontserrat.com

Costa Rica
The granddaddy of green travel is laden with low-cost options. My suggestion: stay at the elegant Finca Rosa Blanca, the country's first-ever eco-lodge. It's built on a verdant mountain slope less than a half-hour from the international airport in San Jose, so you won't have to incur the cost of connecting flights to other parts of the country. Finca Rosa Blanca doubles as a working, shade-grown organic coffee plantation, and it serves as the perfect base camp for hiking, rafting, rainforest canopy tours, horseback riding, and volcano climbing. The resort has been running package deals lately, so there are ways to get around the pricey $290 nightly room rate. fincarosablanca.com

St. John, Virgin Islands
If you know anything about eco-resorts, you've heard of the simple but romantic, wood-framed tent cottages of Maho Bay, in a secluded, seaside jungle preserve. But what you might not know is that, after three decades, the resort's lease is soon up and might not be renewed (if you believe the media reports). You may only have two years left to experience this unique, frill-free eco-paradise before it's gone forever. Cost is $135 per night. maho.org

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